There are times that we want to understand, but there are also times that we want to be understood. Which is which? Alin ang mas gusto natin?
St. Paul wrote to the Corinthian church to address their problems in the church. Divisions on the church, confusions about whom to follow, marriage, and spiritual gifts. These problems are very common even until today. Chapter 13 of 1 Corinthians is very familiar to us. Love is patient, love is kind, love does not envy and so on. The love chapter is what it is called, but on reading this chapter we need to check why Paul wrote this part. It is not about marriage, it is not about affection, it must have something to do with the spiritual gifts that God gave to the church. It pertains on how we should use the gifts that we have. Each of us has gifts, one may be different from the other, but these gifts have one purpose – for the benefit of the church. Some of us here are part of the communications team, some of us are to be trained on handling Sunday schools, but we have one main goal – spreading the Gospel. Paul in here was addressing the problem of the Corinthian church on the use of their spiritual gifts. I would like to read again verses 1-3, “ If I speak in tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.” What was St. Paul’s point in here? When someone speak in tongues, or in a language that is foreign to particular audience, but have not love; meaning, but not showing concern and not considering the listeners, he is just like a noisy gong and a clanging cymbal, he is just annoying. + So with prophecy and all the other spiritual gifts, when we use them without love, we are nothing, it will be useless. These spiritual gifts are supposedly for the edification, for the building up, for the learning and teaching of the people; but these gifts when use without love, cause divisions, confusions, and even unbelief or doubt. That was what St. Paul was trying to correct. The Corinthian church has viewed the spiritual gifts differently. They were thinking that this gift is better than the other; that this gift is a sign that you are a Christian; that this gift is not so important than the others. Paul was teaching them that the spiritual gifts are to be used for the benefit of the body of Christ.
The Bible says that all of us are sinners, all of us fell short of God’s glory, all of us are corrupted. This sinfulness of ours has tainted everything that we do and believe. Our sinfulness has tainted the view and use of the spiritual gifts given by the Holy Spirit. We misuse the gifts that we have, or we don’t use them at all. Man is curved inward. We want all things be for our own benefit, for our own fame, for our own glory; these includes the spiritual gifts. + Speaking in tongues, prophecy, wisdom, teaching, talking, healing, giving, music, interpretation, and many more gifts; we use this for our own glory, that is how we operate, that is how this sinful world operate. As members of the LCP communications team, as teachers of the Sunday school, the question for us is that, para kanino ba itong ginagawa natin? Para saan ba itong ginagawa natin? Why do we write articles? Why do we post pictures? Why do we teach the children? We have learned from the Bible study that we communicate to magnify the Gospel, not to magnify ourselves; so also, on teaching the children. We teach the children for the Gospel’s sake. Children are also sinful. They need God, they need Jesus, they need forgiveness of sin, they need the Gospel.
Brothers and sisters, the gifts that we have is supposedly to be used with love. Just as what our theme verse says, “We will speak the truth in love; so, we will grow in every way to become the body of Christ. Christ is the head of the body.” Paul in this letter to the Corinthians was reminding them to use their gifts in love. Verse 13 says, “So now, faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” Even the summary of the commandments is love. Love is very important in this ministry that we are in. Love enables us to be considerate to our audience. Love makes us humble in everything we do. Love enables us to use our gifts, the skill that we have, for the benefit of our neighbors. Love enables us to write the truth in our articles or news stories. Love enables us to teach the children. Love enable us to consider that these children are also sinners. Love enables us to avoid fake news. Love is what we think of as we do what we are supposed to do. I am not just speaking about common thinking and definition of love, an earthly love; but I am speaking about the love that God showed through Jesus Christ on the cross, a love that is conditional. This Lent season, we remember how God showed His love for us. We remember, during this season, how Jesus came here on earth to live a life that we are not able to live, to suffer and die in our place. See how great the love of God is, it took the life of His only begotten son, just for us to have forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation. Here is the thing, the love of God did not just end on the death of Christ on the cross. He is still showing His love for us until now through the Word and Sacrament. The fact that we are here attending these seminars, the fact that we have these gifts to be use for the ministry, is still a manifestation of God’s love in Jesus Christ. These are still manifestations of how God still cares for us. These are some of the many ways that God has guided the church, and will still be guiding us.
We are blessed that we are here to be equipped for the ministry that God has prepared for us. We are blessed for the opportunity to use the spiritual gifts that we have for the building up of the church and for the glory of God. We are blessed that through the gifts that we have, we can relay the love of God to others. We are blessed that we can show others our love, and this love flows from the cross where Jesus died.
Jesus is the source of love, Jesus is love himself; and with this we live, we walk, we work in love.
We communicate in love and with love; we teach in love and with love. This ministry is owned by God, and we are assured that this ministry will succeed, that this ministry will magnify the love of God for all people. In Jesus’ name. Amen.